Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Walkabout

Part 1 Sunday Walkabout

“Sunshine Daydream, walk you in the tall trees, going where the wind blows, blooming like a red rose” Hunter/Weir

Today was crystal clear with blue skies and cotton candy clouds that billowed from the towering peaks. I am still suffering from the residuals of my funk but couldn’t deny the opportunity to roam. As usual, when I stepped outside students, teachers, and villagers all asked where I was going, and for what purpose? My new response is “this way” and “no purpose.” I pointed myself up the newly cleaned path to Tsangma’s castle and the temple and kept on going all the way to my bon shrine. New infant ferns had popped up within my stone ring. After a quick prayer and encounter with two shy girls in the forest I headed onward to the edge of my previous exploration. Just above the pine plateau and my shrine, an old abandoned house and a trail to the small village I stumbled upon my second day in Tsenkharla. Today I found a little track down the ravine into a deciduous forest. At the bottom of the gully I stumbled into another tiny hamlet greeting a confused villager upon arrival. She did not even know “hello” but she had some cool hand carved planter boxes outside here house. From there I wandered another tiny trail until I came upon a neatly kept farmhouse and field enclosed by a tidy stone wall. There hidden in the forest was a ruin quite similar in design and size to Tsangma’s complex. I left the trail and trod down several terraces until I reached this enchanted site. I hopped the stone wall marveling at its careful construction. The ruin was crumbling but still had two of its four thirty foot walls intact. It now resembled a great stone arch. There was a huge buttress growing out of one wall suspended in mid air. I couldn’t comprehend how such a massive tree could sprout from inside the stone, but there it was anyway. On the old trunk were dead and living ferns growing out of the bark hovering over the earth below. The roosts of this aerial tree were entwined around the stone as the tree and ancient edifice had coalesced. The arch had a window and I fixed myself on the sill overlooking the valley and the Dawang Chu rushing towards Yangtse. My feet dangled happily in the breeze twenty five feet above the duff covered forest floor. Oak leaves flapped while birds conversed along the ridge.

I have always loved ruins since my visit to Chitzanetza and Tulume in Mexico and later Angkor Wat. The ruins of Tsangma are small but very old, built in the 9th century. I sat on my sill wondering who built this lower ruin and for what purpose? I imagined when this spot was a bustling complex and how it was left to slowly wither and decay in the forest. A ruin makes me revaluate my conception of time. I always imagined time as a linear sequence barreling down a track like a locomotive. But at this spot time has receded and the forest has reclaimed a once important dwelling. It makes me think that time is more circular as civilizations rise and fall and move to other locations. This is actually a comforting thought as perhaps we can steer our world back on course and come back around to a natural state. We are not rushing down the track but can turn the wheel back to our own origins.

This lower ruin off the path also marked the boundary of my territory. Beyond this point would require a large hike and exploration into an unknown wilderness. I found my way out of the stand of blooming deciduas and down some terraces where I saw a villager lounging in the grass with a hooked machete. We attempted communication before settling on a smile. She pointed me up a narrow path into the brush. This path was unmarred by litter and I felt I could have been walking in the forest of a thousand years ago. Her cows were grazing in thick bushes and I am always amazed at the dexterity of these lumbering beasts with sharp horns. I made my way back exactly to my plateau and shrine in a perfect loop cutting through ferns and rhododendrons with vibrant red blossoms. Somewhat out of place in this dry land, harbingers of the lush forest around the bend. From here I whisked through the pine and cypress forest back to the temple. I let myself in to marvel at the paintings which grow in intricacy each visit, depicting half tiger men making love with Buddhist beauties. Or fanged deities with plump female beasts wrapped around them with bleeding hearts in their hands, while men with goat heads dance around with spears. And those clawed feet subduing naked china dolls. It’s all beautiful madness just like the human mind wrapped in natural phenomenon. Upstairs I take a quick breather in the attic lighting some incense and admiring the view through god’s tiny window.

Back on the trail I see donkeys with African penises and cows munching grass. The clouds move in quickly casting shadows on the mountains. The trail is the divide between the narrow western valleys with mountains criss -crossing past Gom Kora towards T-Gang, and the eastern wilderness with its gapping maw (beyond Kinney’s sacred tree) staring back at me from the subcontinent. A raven squawks howdy, “AH, AH” landing on the tallest pine top. Animals love humans after all, it seems we entertain them. I peer into arid Arrunachal Pradesh and its unseen village home of the luscious woman who gave me an orange and slapped me on the back on the road to Doksom. On the map Tsenkharla is closer to India than Doksom. But no road connects the two countries at this point. But there is a trail somewhere however I would not be permitted passage. I descended to my village chatting with some girls from 8B playing badminton on the main drag, a handful of shops lined up in a row like wooden forts. I wandered through the iron gates of purgatory towards my hut to make another plate of fried rice.

Lower Ruin

A magnificent stone arch
of crumbling love
is grasped by thick roots  
of a withered oak,
a tree serpent
swallowing the world
in slow reclamation
that devours our nature


  1. Happy Easter to you Tim from Dunsmuir (the last outpost of the civilized world)where the water comes out of the tap 24/7 and it's HOT!!


    Your Fatherrrrrrrrrrr!

  2. Timmers: You're doing great, despite the challenges. You have enough of Mother Earth in your heart to realize that when the solitude and lonliness get too much, you can put your foot on Her breast and she will ease your pain--always! I couldn't be more proud of your effort to clean up the damn litter. Millions of gold stars for you. Happy Easter, my beloved Nephew. You are sorely missed. But your are mastering your fate. Congrats.